Category Archives: First Encounters

Days of Awe, Days of Love

Yoni A. Dahlen
September 22, 2014

I first fell in love when I was twelve years old. Until then, I had used the word to represent some concept of permanence. I loved my parents, because they loved me, they took care of me, they consoled me when I was hurting, they supported me when I succeeded, and they supported me when More »


Encountering God in the “In-Between”

Richard Lederman
September 18, 2014

How fitting it was for the Sh’ma editors to open this month’s edition with Shoshana Olidort’s piece, “On First Encountering Doubt.” Doubt seems to be one of several leitmotifs that weave through these articles. While it may seem odd, what first comes to my mind is Pope Francis. About a year ago, a papal interview More »


First Encounters With Work

Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz
September 16, 2014

I wasn’t prepared. After enjoying the benefits of childhood, (being served prepared meals, having my material needs provided for, and being nurtured, etc.) how was I supposed to go and start looking for work? However, after realizing that I needed to fill open time in my schedule and that I needed to have my own More »


Encountering Israel

Yael Roberts
September 8, 2014

There are two empty seats next to me on the plane. This makes the plane ride to Israel comfortable, but the nagging discomfort is there too, knowing that fewer people are traveling at this time. I toss and turn between comfort and discomfort, my stomach churning all eleven hours, a back and forth. The waves More »



Franny Silverman
September 5, 2014

August 19, 2014 To my distant cousin David, I know your grandfather, Sherman. He is one of my grandmother’s favorite cousins. And while I don’t know him well, if I caught his eye at a family celebration across a buffet of chopped liver, I’d know it was him, I’d know his name to be Sherman. More »


Maths and Mosaics

Rabbi Alon C Ferency
September 2, 2014

In school, did you like math and foreign language classes? Most people hated them, but for some reason I loved both.  Frankly, it’s only since moving to Knoxville, Tennessee, and having so many scientists as congregants, that I finally came out as a math nerd.  In fact, I’m told that math, languages, and music all share More »